Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(81) by Ilona Andrews
“Yes?” he said.
“It’s me. I need help.”
“I’m here,” he said.
I put him on speaker. “Is there any reason why debris from an old building might contain magical algae?”
“Lazarus Builders,” Raphael said. “About two years after the Shift, when they started seeing the first evidence of magic-induced erosion, a builder firm came out with a surefire way to proof the buildings against the magic waves.”
When it came to magic, there was no such thing as surefire anything.
“They found that a particular type of algae had the potential to absorb a lot of magical energy, so they mixed it into their concrete. Initial tests suggested it would be magic-resistant. It worked great for about five years, and then the first flare hit.”
Flares were like magic tsunamis—several days of uninterrupted, ridiculously strong magic. It was the time when gods could manifest.
“Turned out the algae was like a water balloon. It would absorb some magic, but when the flare overloaded it, it popped. Everything they built with Lazarus concrete fell either during the flare or within a month after it. It was one of the bigger scandals in Atlanta real estate.”
“How many buildings are we talking about?”
“That’s the bad news. They licensed the recipe. They even mixed it into stucco and claimed it would magic-proof residential construction. Lazarus was the darling of the business community back then, because everyone panicked and rushed to have new magic-proof corporate headquarters built. Basically anything built between the Shift and the first flare will have that crap in it. It’s so common, I don’t even have a separate file on it.”
Fate sucker-punched me in the face and then laughed.
“I can go through all of my files and pull every somewhat large building out by date, but it will take a while. A couple of days. Do you want my guys to do that?”
“No.” Eduardo didn’t have a couple of days and neither did the city. “Thank you, Raphael.”
“You’re welcome. Any time, Kate. I mean it.”
“Dead end,” Luther said. “Lovely.”
“There is something else we can try . . .”
Someone knocked on my front door. I got up and opened it. A tall man stood in the doorway, carrying a backpack on his left shoulder. He looked older, close to sixty. He wore dark trousers, loose enough to not restrict his movement, tucked into tall boots, a sweater, and a gray cloak over it, a common outfit for someone on the streets of Atlanta. His shoulders were still broad and his posture straight. He must’ve been very strong once, but age had stolen some of his bulk. I could tell by the way he stood that he carried at least one knife under the cloak and he was ready to use it at a moment’s notice. Lines marked his olive skin, but his dark eyes behind round glasses were smart and sharp. Gray sprinkled his once-dark hair and a short precise beard hugged his jaw. He reminded me of a human version of my father.
Julie leaned from her couch. “Mr. Amir-Moez? What are you doing here?”
“Hello, Julie.” His voice was quiet and calm.
I glanced at her. “Do you know this man?”
“This is Mr. Bahir Amir-Moez,” Julie said. “He teaches ancient history and Islamic studies at my school.”
Mr. Amir-Moez turned to me. “I found your note. I accept your help.”
Finally something had gone right. “Honey!” I yelled.
“Yes?” Curran called down.
“Can you tell George that Eduardo’s father is here?”
• • •
THE SEVEN OF us sat around the kitchen table. George was glaring daggers at Bahir. Mahon, a big looming shadow, occupied the chair next to his daughter. They agreed to table their discussion until we sorted things out. Bahir, as he asked to be called, took the chair next to me.
“How did you know?” he asked me.
“We put it together,” I told him. “We found out that Eduardo was born in Atlanta and that his mother married her current husband when Eduardo was seven years old. The ifrit referred to him as betrayer’s spawn, which suggested that Eduardo’s ancestors served the ifrit in some capacity and he might be part ifrit himself. We also knew that Eduardo reacted violently when he saw you and walked off a job, despite badly needing the money. When asked why, he said his reasons were personal. We found the dagger you gave him, which seemed inconsistent with Eduardo’s stance on religion. Then this evening I had dinner with my father.”
Nick burst into a coughing fit. I gave him a moment to come to terms with it.
“He said that parents can’t help themselves and, given a chance, they will watch over their children.”
“It does seem rather obvious when laid out like that,” Bahir said.
He reached into his backpack, pulled out a metal box, and set it on the table. Pale silver lines of koftgari stood out, the script tiny, as if written with an enchanted pen on the blackened steel. The Ayat al-Kursi—the Verse of the Throne, Surah al-Fatiha, the last two verses from Surat al-Baqara, the first verse of Surah al-Imran, a large portion of Surat al-Jinn . . .
“How long did it take the smiths?” I asked.
“A year,” Bahir answered.
“You knew the ifrit was coming?” Luther asked.
He nodded. “It started on the day Eduardo was born. At first there were dreams. Violent disturbing dreams. Rima and I had been married for three years, we had an infant son, and I didn’t want to jeopardize them, so I sought treatment. I went to a psychiatrist. I got a prescription for medication, which I took on schedule. The dreams persisted. At first they made no sense; then gradually the meaning began to emerge. Something was coming. Something was hunting me. The visions were full of death.
“I had made a conscious choice to reject the visions. We’d discovered that Rima was a shapeshifter and she had a difficult time dealing with it. She was a werebison, an uncommon breed, and to her knowledge, she had never been attacked by a shapeshifter. Neither of her parents were shapeshifters, and it caused a great deal of tension between her mother and father. Her father asked her to undergo a paternity test. She was so deeply hurt by it. She saw it for what it was—a rejection of all the years her father had been a part of her life. To her it didn’t matter if she was or wasn’t his biological child. She cut off all ties with her family. She needed me, so I spent another year trying to convince myself that I was simply disturbed. My parents were dead. I had nobody to ask for guidance.”
Bahir sighed. “One night I was coming home from work. It was dark. A nervous woman came up to me asking for directions. She drew a knife sheathed in fire and stabbed me with it. I didn’t die. The blade passed through me and when she withdrew it, there was no wound. I was whole. I almost choked her to death out of sheer fear, but reason prevailed and I let her go. She told me that I was an ifrit, part of the ancient line stretching back from the time lost in history, when some ifrit, sensing the waning of magic, sought to mix their bloodline with humans in an effort to preserve it. The ifrits can sense those of the same clan. She said there were others like me who had felt my presence and sent her to test me.”
“That’s a hell of a test,” I said.
“What if you had died?” George asked.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online